Clients will typically ask if community service can be performed in connection with a DUI or criminal offense. Community service would be defined as doing work for a nonprofit agency such as a church or some other non profit agency designed to help the public in general. So, how does community service impact a DUI or criminal charge?
As it pertains to a DUI charge, typically the courts do not impose community service as a consequence of receiving such a charge (albeit there are exceptions). Typically DUI defendants are placed on probation which can range from unsupervised to up to a year or more of supervised probation. With the typical result being a supervised probation for one year in addition to whatever else the judge desires to impose as a penalty.
Therefore when I am asked by a client if they should do community service prior to going to court, the answer is typically no. However there are other things that are required prior to going to court on a DUI charge, such things as an alcohol education class or a social drinker education class for a first offender. If a defendant is a second or multiple offender a more significant alcohol education program may be needed possibly even inpatient ranging from one weekend to as much as 30 days inpatient or more. Maryland judges put significant value and wait on these types of programs when a defendant appears before them for sentencing.
There are a variety of certified programs around the state such as Right Turn of Maryland, Columbia Addictions in Columbia, Mountain Manner in Carroll County and others throughout the state. These alcohol education programs are very important to both the defendant and to the judge so it is very wise to both be evaluated and engage these programs prior to going to court. Other than completing an alcohol education program and staying out of trouble pending ones court date there is not much more that a DUI defendant needs to do. The balance of the work needs to be done by defense counsel who will file appropriate discovery against the state and prepare to defend your case in court. It is important to stay in touch with your DUI defense counsel however, because as the case is prepared for court is important that both you and counsel are on the same page. Therefore meetings may be necessary either at the office to review the statement of facts and other documents obtained from the state or alternatively meetings on the phone to review what has been received.
We generally give our clients the choice of whether they desire to come into the office and review the discovery that we have received or if they wish it to be emailed to them and have a telephone conference or a Skype conference. The choice is left to them in the regular DUI case. Interestingly, in the majority of DUI cases the defendant does not testify in court so the case is largely between counsel and the government and the police officer with the defendant merely being an observer of his case. This is the circumstance in the majority of cases however there are certainly situations where a defendant is called upon to testify and therefore would need to meet with counsel ahead of time.